Meet FRCH: An Interview With Jim Lazzari

Jim Lazzari, FRCH’s Chief Architectural Officer and Partner ( and self-proclaimed Chief Shorts Officer) has been here at FRCH for a while. In fact, 27 1/2 years. This past week, I had a chance to sit down with him and ask a few questions about the design industry, FRCH, and his personal life. Here is just a glimpse at Mr. Jim Lazzari…

For the readers who don’t already know you, how do you describe what you do? What is a typical day at FRCH for you?

No day here at FRCH would be called a “typical” day at work.

The days are a mixed variety of project work, client management, mentoring, business development, proposal writing,  firm-wide “stuff”, document reviews and signing of permit drawings, continuing ed and maintaining 50 architectural licenses, travel, meetings, emails, and trying to wear shorts on Fridays.

Did you have any key figures or mentors at any point during your education or career?

In school, David Niland, was a key figure. He brought out design in all types of people, and showed how design influences everything you do and see. He explained that design is really creative problem solving.

At work, being a gentleman in the business I looked up to (FRCH’s Founder) Jim Fitzgerald Sr., Bob Novak, and Rudy Javoski.

My love of food and wine has developed thanks to the expertise of Kate Kreimer.

And most importantly my family values come from my wife, Mary Lazzari.What is the best part of your job?

It is why I have been here for 27 1/2 years…  FRCH is all about growth and constantly changing, improving, and taking risks. It keeps the job interesting and far from boring.

What inspires you?

The ability and opportunities to travel have been great! I have gained an appreciation for diverse cultures, personalities, what people value, inspiration, interests, and most importantly travel keeps me  readjusting and looking at the world in different ways.

I have 2 Rules of Travel:

1. Can’t eat in a chain restaurant.

2. Drink local beer.

How has design technology changed over your time spent in the field? In what ways have these changes affected the design process and end product?

I have been in the industry for 30 years, and when I started the industry thought drawing on Mylar and pin-bar was technical. Then the fax machine and FedEx were the big improvements. It is incredibly amazing how far it has all come. You could really break it down in 10 year segments: 1st 10 years CAD became the new program of choice, 2nd 10 years more 3D modeling started, and today BIM modeling and photo-realistic renderings and fly-thru videos are pushing the boundaries.

It is incredible how far technology has come, and how we can transmit information with the push of a button. Technology has helped us, but there is still tremendous value in talking with your hands on paper. I believe the only danger is designing based on what the computer can do versus what our minds can create.

We all know what brands like Apple have done in terms of innovation. What up-and-coming brands or companies do you recognize pushing boundaries today?

Think about it, Apple is over 30 years old and originally had awkward looking computers, but they have re-emerged, reinvented, and rediscovered who they are as a company and who their client is. Right now they have made a product that is reliable and used by your teenage daughter or your grandmother. The products are trendy, cool, fun, with a great service. There really isn’t another product that comes to mind that is leading in innovation. But there are 3 companies I find interesting at this time.  Audi – making a strong statement in style and performance.   Food Network – everybody wants to be a foodie and Giada’s smile has melted America’s heart.  Microbrews – making beer drinking more fun than I thought possible.

Fun Facts:

Favorite Sports Team: Pittsburgh Steelers

Favorite City: Chicago

Ideal Friday Evening: Mary and I enjoy an evening with the neighbors with great food, wine & celebration of the end of the week.

Favorite Product: (product I own) Black Chevy Tahoe. It’s a great ride!

Favorite Color: Black (with some gold)

Favorite Designer: Frank Lloyd Wright & Louis Kahn – it might be “old school”, but still very relevant today.

If FRCH were a flavor of ice cream, what would it be?

FRCH is not one particular style or flavor, but would be an assortment of flavors. No two flavors would be exactly the same, just like the people here.

What makes FRCH awesome?

A lot of things. FRCH has always tried different things and has never been afraid of challenges or growth. Some endeavors have gone well and others haven’t. There are so many different avenues at FRCH, you can take your career in any direction; it makes FRCH a very special place!

Thank you very much Jim for your time and your love of the job & life.

2 Responses to Meet FRCH: An Interview With Jim Lazzari

  1. Donna Azbell says:

    Hi Jim, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Donna Azbell, mother of the one and only Nick Azbell. I may have met you once upon a time but don’t recall it. I appreciate all the people of FRCH for recognizing my son’s potential. Have a geat week.

    • Jim Lazzari says:

      Donna,
      thanks for the note and we appreciate all of Nick’s talents and his contributions to FRCH.
      I hope you are enjoying Nick’s recent project at River Valley Mall and the new Dick’s Sporting Goods store there too.
      Sincerely,
      Jim Lazzari

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